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Fried Catfish and Greens

Cayenne pepper gives a flavor boost to these catfish fillets, which are soaked in buttermilk and then coated with cornmeal before frying.

Ingredients:

  • 4 catfish fillets, about 1 1/2 lb. total
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbs. peanut or canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 bunches collard, mustard or turnip greens, about 1 lb. total, trimmed and shredded
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Directions:

Season the catfish
Put the catfish in a shallow bowl or baking dish and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Add the buttermilk and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. On a plate, stir together the cornmeal and cayenne.

Cook the greens
In a deep fry pan over low heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the garlic and greens, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to prevent scorching, until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and keep warm.

Fry the catfish
Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Using tongs, lift each fillet from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip into the bowl. Roll the fillet in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides well and shaking off the excess.

Place the fillets in the pan and cook until golden brown underneath, about 4 minutes. Turn the fillets over and cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly.

Arrange the fillets on individual plates, spoon the greens alongside and serve immediately with the lemon wedges. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Seafood, by Jay Harlow (Oxmoor House, 2007).